Posted on the Oathkeepers website at:
People of Ferguson, whatever the Grand Jury’s decision, you have an absolute, God given, and constitutionally protected right to protest and speak your mind. The First Amendment prohibits government at every level from “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
And under our Constitution, the police have no right, no authority, and no power to violate those rights, and neither does Governor Nixon, or anyone else in government. During the earlier protests in August, we saw egregious violations of the rights of peaceful protesters and media in Ferguson, including the irresponsible, indiscriminate use of tear gas and rubber bullets, as well as police pointing assault rifles and sniper rifles at people who posed no apparent, immediate threat to anyone – people who were simply standing in the street, voicing their opinions. We also saw the imposition of an absurd curfew, and routine harassment of people merely standing on sidewalks.
Because of these blatant abuses, our Missouri Chapter of Oath Keepers sent an Open Letter of Warning to Governor Nixon, warning him that he and the police under his leadership were using unconstitutional, rights-violating tactics that were also, perversely, ineffective at stopping the few actual looters, shooters, or rock and Molotov cocktail throwers. We told the Governor:
Such over-the-top threatening displays, with rifles pointed-in indiscriminately at protesters and residents, only anger and frighten the people and reinforce the perception that it is “the police vs. the people” rather than the police vs. a small number of criminals, while risking the lives of the very people our police are supposed to be serving.
And much like over-the top and indiscriminate threat displays and use of force in Iraq lost the hearts and minds of the locals, so too does it lose the battle for hearts and minds here at home – assisting in the agendas of those who wish to divide us along racial lines and create an “us vs. them” mentality among both the people and the police.….Likewise for the imposition of curfews, which violate the right of the people to peaceably assemble, while also failing to stop the looters and shooters who ignore such decrees. The First Amendment prohibits “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” period. It doesn’t add on - unless a politician declares a state of emergency and imposes a curfew. Nor does it say - unless other people are looting and being violent, in which case all of you lose your right to peaceably assemble. Curfews punish the peaceable majority for the actions of a violent few, and again, alienate the community and send the message that the police see them all as the enemy and seek to trample on the rights of all of them.
Read the rest and comment at the Oathkeepers website here: